2008 Commencement calls PolyThinkers to action

From left: Valedictorian Mohammad  I. Makhdoom, Honorary Degree recipients Arthur C. Martinez, chairman and CEO (retired), Sears Roebuck and Co., Stef Wertheimer, industrialist and philanthropist and Promise Fund Scholar Anita Zhu.


Be bold and be brave and strive to break the thinking that something can’t be done,” urged Arthur C. Martinez in his commencement address to Polytechnic’s 153rd graduating class on Monday, June 2 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.

Mr. Martinez, retired chairman and CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and a Poly alumnus, credited the “curiosity and restlessness that Poly instilled” in him for his “unexpected and varied career.”

He encouraged graduates to stay connected with Poly, especially as it enters a new era with New York University. Mr. Martinez offered this mnemonic device to aid them on their path toward professional and personal fulfillment:

Passion – do you have the passion for big ideas?
Others – none of us got here on our own
Listen – hear and take advice
Yourself – pay attention to your mental, physical and spiritual health

“Take Poly with you and you’ll be able to achieve anything,” he said.

From left: Promise Fund Scholar Anita Zhu, Polytechnic President Jerry M. Hultin and valedictorian Mohammad I. Makhdoom.

"State the facts frankly and act now"
President Jerry M. Hultin stressed that graduates use their Polytechnic educations to take on the challenges — however daunting — of today’s world.

Noting the rising roles of India, China, the Middle East and Europe on the global stage, the perilous state of the environment, regions of conflict, and other emerging threats, President Hultin said, “We are living in a world whose future will not be a continuation of its past…It’s a world where ‘gold and fear’ divide us.”

President Hultin cited these words from President John F. Kennedy: “To state the facts frankly is not to despair the future, nor indict the past.”

To the graduates, he asked: “With all we have in hand as PolyThinkers, are we to despair the future and indict the past? Or are we prepared to state the facts frankly and act now?”

President Hultin noted that Poly “also graduates today,” saying, “the University has a new strategy for increased impact. We’re focused on I2E — invention, innovation and entrepreneurship — permeating everything we do… [And] we are merging with NYU to accelerate Poly’s strategy and to achieve excellence…with this merger our better days will be now.”

Celebrating PolyThinking graduates, honorees and award winners
In his valedictory address, Mohammad I. Makhdoom, a computer engineering student graduating with a 3.954 grade point average, said of his fellow graduates, “We’re entering the world with self-assurance. The principles we’ve learned from Poly will allow us to take on the future.”

Two students who epitomize PolyThinking were honored with the Outstanding Graduate Award: Arjun Adhikari, who earned a dual Bachelor and Master of Science degree in chemical and biological sciences and will continue his studies at Stanford University in the fall; and Narissa Puran who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biomolecular engineering and will be presenting research this summer in China with support from the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Janice Aber, lecturer of chemistry, chemical and biological sciences, received the annual Distinguished Teacher Award. In his presentation of the award, Provost Erich E. Kunhardt said: “For over a decade, you have given generously of your time, warmth and sense of humor to instill in your students a passion for scientific scholarship and research.”

Mr. Martinez received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree, as did industrialist and philanthropist Stef Wertheimer. Mr. Wertheimer is a winner of the Israel Prize who has encouraged a new generation of entrepreneurs in the six industrial parks (five in Israel and another in Gebze, Turkey) he has created to promote export and to ensure a better quality of life.

The 2008 Commencement ceremony culminated with the conferring of approximately 338 bachelor’s, 612 master’s and 37 Ph.D. degrees.